March 27, 2020
COVID 19 and the courts: The Judicial Response
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National News Roundup
Coronavirus Crisis Deepens, More Courts Abandon In-Person Operations
Federal and state judiciaries in New York, California, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., are among the many across the nation that have been disrupted. (March 17)
More courthouses across the nation are restricting access to visitors as the number of people infected with the COVID-19 respiratory illness continues to spread.
Federal and state judiciaries in New York, California, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., are among the many across the nation limiting access and altering the manner in which in-person hearings are conducted in order to mitigate the spread of the illness. Some have even gone as far as calling off oral arguments.
(Extensive Article – Read More)
California Court Roundup (March 17)
State courts across California are implementing a variety of measures to curtail public activity in many instances, and in others to shut down completely.
The California Supreme Court on Monday suspended in-person oral arguments until ”deemed prudent to resume normal measures.” Counsel will appear by video or telephone. All oral argument sessions will be held in San Francisco. The sessions will be open to the public but seating will be limited. Until the suspension order was issued, the court was scheduled to be in session the week of April 6 in Los Angeles.
The court on Wednesday also extended mandatory filings of all documents, including briefs.
Article describes how courts across the state are grappling with the threat of the novel coronavirus as of Wednesday evening.
Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady late Tuesday took another step to try to limit the spread of the coronavirus in courthouses, ordering that in-person hearings be restricted to matters that are “essential” or “critical” to the public-health emergency.
Canady, in a five-page administrative order that gave directions to chief judges of the judicial circuits, said the requirements would last through March 27, though he left open the possibility they could be extended.A March 13 order, in part, suspended grand-jury proceedings, jury selections and criminal and civil jury trials through March 27.
The March 17 order gave more-specific direction that said circuit and county courts should continue to perform “essential” court proceedings such as first appearances in criminal cases; necessary criminal arraignments; bond hearings; juvenile-delinquency detention hearings; and hearings about whether people should be involuntarily committed under the Baker Act.
The order also said courts should hold “critical proceedings related to the state of emergency or the public health emergency,” including the possibility of dealing with issues such as violations of quarantines, violations of orders to close buildings and enforcement of curfews.Canady wrote that the order does not prevent chief judges from determining that additional proceedings are “essential or are critical to the state of emergency or the public health emergency.”
The Supreme Court also announced that its oral arguments scheduled for April would be postponed until June. Similarly, the state’s district courts of appeal have taken steps such as canceling oral arguments in the coming weeks.
“Because of ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, the First District Court of Appeal has postponed or canceled all oral argument sessions scheduled through the end of April,” Chief Judge Stephanie Ray wrote in a message posted on the website of the Tallahassee-based 1st District Court of Appeal, which hears cases from across North Florida. “The panel (of judges) assigned to hear each affected case will determine whether to reschedule the oral argument or to decide the case without oral argument.”
Kentucky’s state court system largely will shut down for the next month to avoid spreading the novel coronavirus among crowds at courthouses, according to an emergency order released by Chief Justice John Minton Jr. The Kentucky Supreme Court also canceled oral arguments in a half-dozen cases on appeal that it was scheduled to hear in its state Capitol courtroom.
The move lasts through April 10.
In the federal court system, all civil and criminal trials scheduled to start between March 16 and April 17 will be continued for at least 30 days
State and federal courts in Maryland are further reducing activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new and revised administrative orders issued Monday night.
Maryland state courts, which Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera previously closed to the public but kept open for emergency proceedings, will move to restricted operations .
The latest administrative order was Barbera’s first exercise of new emergency powers under revisions to the Maryland Rules approved by the Court of Appeals.
“In response to COVID-19, the Maryland Judiciary is taking further action to protect court visitors and Judiciary personnel,” Barbera said in a statement. “The health and well-being of all Marylanders continue to be a top priority as we ensure that essential court operations continue during this public health emergency.”
Under the order, Maryland courts, court offices, administrative offices, units of the judiciary and clerk’s offices will be restricted to emergency operations and closed with limited exceptions until April 3. Each jurisdiction is required to have enough judges to hear specified emergency measures during the week and essential personnel, identified by administrative judges, other administrative heads and clerks, must report as required.
During the emergency, all Maryland judges are allowed to sit in any trial court in the state and must be available to respond in person or remotely, according to the order.
The Court of Appeals will continue to hear certain cases involving election law, writs of mandamus and certified questions of law. The Court of Special Appeals will hear requests for injunctive relief pending appeal and appeals where a lack of action will have a dispositive outcome. Both appellate courts will hear matters involving quarantine and isolation.
State, federal courts further restrict entry and proceedings over virus
High court approves emergency powers for chief judge in pandemic
Gov. Tim Walz on Sunday placed court employees on the front lines of the COVID-19 response, ranking them alongside corrections workers, first responders, health clinicians and public health professionals.
As he did for other front-line responders, Walz on Sunday ordered schools to provide day care to court workers’ kids, keeping their parents on the job. Minimally, that means offering services to children ages 12 and under.
The declaration was part of a Walz executive order issued Sunday. It closes Minnesota’s public schools no later than Wednesday until March 27, though they must continue to provide daycare to front-line workers’ kids. The school-closure process begins Monday, Walz said.
“We are in uncharted territory,” Walz said during a Sunday press conference.
The governor’s latest order follows one by Chief Justice Lorie Gildea, issued Friday, that keeps many state courtrooms functioning, albeit with major adjustments.
Gildea’s order requires that:
- Appeals pending before both the state Supreme Court and Minnesota Court of Appeals, including argument calendars, will continue as scheduled.
- Trials for any case type in which a jury has been empaneled and the trial was underway by March 13 must continue to conclusion—absent good cause to suspend based on health and safety.
- Beginning March 16, every judicial district will use the Judicial Branch’s case priorities list to decide which cases will proceed. But proceedings in “Super High Priority” and “High Priority” cases must continue according to governing statutes and court rules.
- For cases other than Super High-, High-priority and criminal proceedings subject to the speedy-trial demand, no new jury trials can start or be scheduled on or after March 16; that condition remains in effect for 30 days. No other non-exempt District Court proceedings may begin after March 16; that restriction lasts through March 30.
- Effective immediately, or at least as soon as practicable, all case-type proceedings—including the Supreme Court’s Commitment Appeal Panel—should be held via interactive video. To facilitate that, Criminal Procedure Rule 1.05 and Rule 14 of the Rules of Procedure governing commitment and treatment are suspended, pending further orders.
- Jurors summoned for trials that will proceed must appear as directed, unless they notify the court in writing or by phone that they have been exposed or are at risk to infection. Jurors empaneled for trials already in progress also must appear, subject to the same conditions.
- Parties or witnesses scheduled to appear in court also must provide notification if they can’t appear because of actual or suspected exposure.
- Courtrooms and court proceedings will remain open to the public, though non-essential visits are discouraged. No one at elevated risk of transmitting COVID-19 may attend a court hearing or proceeding.
- To the extent that people must be present at courthouses, court staff will promote social distancing and other strategies recommended by the state Health Department.
Walz order: Court workers on COVID-19 front line
Court officials announced precautions will be taken in an effort to reduce the spread of illness as cases of the coronavirus COVID-19 increase in the state.
In response to COVID-19, the Supreme Court of Missouri Monday suspended – subject to certain listed exceptions – all in-person proceedings in all appellate and circuit courts, including all associate, family, juvenile, municipal and probate divisions, through April 3.
Courts will remain open but have implemented protocols to curtail exposure to the novel coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19
District, magistrate, metropolitan and appellate courts will remain open for business, to ensure courts fulfill their constitutional and statutory duties. However, civil proceedings that have not begun yet will be postponed until further notice, unless there’s an extenuating circumstance. (3/15/20)
Coronavirus slowing wheels of justice in D.C. region with closed courthouses, delayed trials. Across the region, all kinds of criminal and civil cases — from traffic-ticket hearings to a trial stemming from former special counsel Robert S. Mu eller III’s investigation into election interference — have been put on hold until the health crisis abates.
Supreme Court Postpones Arguments Amid Outbreak
March 16, 2020, 2:19 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court postponed a two-week argument session that had been set to start next week, making a highly unusual calendar change as the coronavirus outbreak spreads across the country.
It’s the first time in decades, and perhaps a century, that the court has canceled a courtroom session because of a public-health scare.
The court had been set to hear arguments in 11 cases during the weeks of March 23 and March 30. Those cases include an $8 billion copyright clash between Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Oracle Corp., set for argument March 24.
The court was also planning March 31 arguments on President Donald Trump’s challenge to subpoenas for his financial information issued by three House committees and a New York grand jury. Trump is trying to block his banks and accounting firm from turning over the records.
The court said in a statement it will “examine the options for rescheduling those cases in due course in light of the developing circumstances.”
The move follows similar steps by courts around the country, as judges delayed trials and modified argument procedures to avoid or limit in-person sessions.
U.K. Courts Carry on While Virus Halts EU Cases, Lawsuits
Read more: https://news.bloomberglaw.com/us-law-week/supreme-court-postpones-next-set-of-arguments-amid-outbreak
State courts in West Virginia were directed Monday to suspend all but emergency proceedings through April 10 over safety concerns with the COVID-19 coronavirus.
All civil and criminal trials and jury orientations should be postponed with the only exception being a trial where a criminal defendant’s speedy trial rights may preclude the postponement, according to the Supreme Court order filed on Monday.
Emergency hearings arising from abuse and neglect petitions, domestic violence protective order petitions, mental hygiene petitions and criminal arraignments and preliminary hearings with statutory time requirements can still be held, at the discretion of the presiding judge.
Emergency hearings should be held using technology to avoid person-to-person contact, if possible. Circuit clerk’s offices and judicial offices throughout West Virginia where public access has been restricted should remain available by phone and e-mail and have drop boxes for court filings.
There is a drop box for filings at the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia Clerk’s Office and the office will remain open. All cases scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court today, Wednesday, March 24 and 25 will be rescheduled.
W.Va. Supreme Court of Appeals issues order to suspend all court proceedings in the state amid COVID-19 concerns